Tuesday, November 24, 2015

7 Ways to Celebrate Advent With Your Family

Patient waiting.

These two little words most accurately describe the tone and theme of the season of Advent.

Patient waiting.

No two words in the English language are more incompatible with young children.

How do those of us with young children help them to celebrate the beautiful season of Advent without being overrun by the mad rush to Christmas morning?  Here are 7 ideas that our family has used to  make the celebration of the season of Advent a Christ-centered, prayerful and fun-filled family affair.

1. Advent Prayer Chain
As a child I loved making paper chains - I think they appealed to the independent streak in me as I liked the idea that I could assemble what I considered to be a beautiful garland all on my own. That appeal has crossed over into my adult life and one of my favorite Advent family traditions is the paper-prayer chain. The kids and I assemble our chain together. As we create the purple and pink chain links, we write the name of a person (living or deceased) or a particular prayer intention on the inside of each link. Once the chain is fully assembled we have a link for each day of Advent.Every day, we remove one link and remember the person or intention on that day's link in a special way in our prayers. Here is a picture of this year's prayer chain handing on our mantle:



2. Lighting the Advent Wreath
I have fond memories of lighting the Advent wreath each night at dinner as a child. It was so exciting as the weeks progressed and the purple candle from the first week grew shorter and shorter. Christmas was coming. Our family has continued the tradition. When the kids were small we lit the Advent wreath in the morning -  in fact, when they were toddlers, we sometimes lit the Advent wreath several times per day - they loved it so much. Now we have set aside time each evening before bed to light the Advent wreath, sing the first verse of O, Come O Come Emmanuel and read from our Advent devotional. This year we are reading Advent and Christmas With the Saints. Here's a picture of our Advent Wreath - we have been using this makeshift Advent wreath with pillar candles since before our children were born - at the rate we are going the candles will last for another 25 years!



3. Family Blessings Journal
I found the idea for a Family Blessings Journal in this book :Advent in the Home: Activities for Families. Using cardstock and some decorative stickers, I made a book for each week of Advent. For each day, every member of the family will share and write down the individual blessing we are most grateful for. I am looking forward to learning more about my husband and children and growing together as a family in gratitude towards the Lord. My prayer is that these journals will become a yearly tradition and a treasured keepsake that we can look back on each year. Here are some pictures of our newly minted Family Blessings Journals:









4. Advent Daily Read-Aloud
Jessica at Shower of Roses inspired me several years ago with her gorgeous Advent book basket -I imagined the joy my children would experience seeing a big basket of beautifully wrapped purple and pink books. The book basket did not disappoint and when my daughter saw this year's books all wrapped and ready to go - she jumped up and down and said "Mommy I can't wait for Advent!" The book basket consists of Advent and Christmas stories - both faith-based and secular. We unwrap the book of the day, snuggle on the couch and read it together every morning. Each year we add new books and weed out the ones that the kids have outgrown. Here's a picture of this year's book basket:



 For a listing of books in our Advent Book Basket click here.


5. Holy Heroes Advent Adventures
The Holy Heroes FREE Advent Adventures are videos delivered daily to your email. The kids (and I) love watching the Holy Heroes kids learn about Advent through reflections on the Sunday scriptures, the Jesse Tree, the rosary and more. This year we also bought the companion activity guide which we plan to use along with the video each day. For those of you fellow homeschoolers - we shelve our regular religion books during Advent and use our Advent devotions instead for our religious instruction.


6. Nativity Jigsaw Puzzle
Advent is all about patient waiting and what better way to combat the culture of instant gratification than through the assembly of a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle. I see so many parallels to the discipline, patience and perseverance required to complete a jigsaw puzzle and the spiritual journey to Bethlehem we should all be taking during Advent. Advent is a season to slowly and patiently, with time and sometimes frustrating effort, prepare our hearts for the Nativity of the Lord.

Pick up your own No Room at The Inn 1000 Piece Jigsaw Puzzle here.


7. Family Movie Night
Advent and Christmas can be a busy and hectic time and while we enjoy parties, celebrations and family gatherings, it is a pleasure to crash on the couch and relax in our pj's watching a Christmas movie (or 2).   Some faith-based selections in our queue this season are The Nativity StoryMary of Nazareth and The Star of Bethlehem.  Of course, we love revisiting some old favorites that capture the Spirit of Christmas such as It's a Wonderful Life  and  Miracle on 34th Street (honestly we enjoy both the original 1947 version and the 1994 version). 

Read related posts here:
Keeping Christ in Advent: 7 Ways to a Peaceful December
Christmas Gift Ideas For Kids: Catholic Style

I'm participating in #/WorthRevisit Wednesday's with this post. 
For more awesome #WorthRevisit posts, head over to the lovely hostesses' Allison Gingras at Reconciled to You and Elizabeth Reardon at Theology is a Verb.


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22 comments:

  1. We do some of these activities, but you have convinced me to do an Advent prayer chain this year. I have wanted to do it in the past, but never got around to it.

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  2. I like the paper chain idea with the prayer intentions. Hadn't thought of that version. We do a lot of these, I do a book basket but don't wrap them. We love Holy Heroes and the advent wreath has always been special. We also have a box style Advent Calendar with a door for each day. I put a piece of one of two nativities in each and our kitchen window sills slowly fill with the scene of the first Christmas. Last year we started doing the travelling wise men, too.

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    1. I love those boxed Advent calendars! It is great to assemble the Nativity scene - one piece at a time - all adds to the "patient waiting." Thanks for stopping by!

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  3. What fantastic ideas! Thank you. I will definitely be doing the paper chain and wrapped books. I'm so happy I found your blog through 7QT.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Kim. My kids love the wrapped books - my daughter was so excited when she saw the basket- they are definitely a big hit - stop back and let us know how it went! God bless your Advent!

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  4. Love this list! Will definitely do the prayer chain link! So excited! I think my little ones will enjoy it :) And we'll be wrapping books for St. Nicholas and Christmas day :)

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    1. The will love it! Even my not so little one's still love it (and so do I)

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  5. Thank you for the great ideas! You are right on, puzzles are NOT instant gratification. We will absolutely add the paper chain idea and the jigsaw puzzle.

    It appears that our families prepare in a very similar manner. :) Thank you for sharing your wisdom! :)

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    1. Thanks Kristin - hope you and your family have a Blessed Advent

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  6. The years I did the wrapped books were some of my favorites. I hope we have more family meals this advent. Last year so busy the candles are still good.

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    1. I am going to be really really sad when my kids outgrow the wrapped books - I love reading them!

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  7. Here from Shower of Roses--thanks for the giveaway! I made my family help me wrap books when they were here for Thanksgiving. We're also doing Advent Adventures. I want to do more (the sacrifice manger in particular), but I'm also afraid of committing myself to too many things!

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  8. I love doing Advent with my family and the Jesse tree is great to.

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  9. These are great suggestions! I especially love the Advent chain and the jigsaw puzzle - we haven't done those before.

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  10. Love all of these ideas Debbie! Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thanks! Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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  11. We do some of these activities also. We are adding family game night with Catholic games. I like all the ideas. Have a Blessed Advent.


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    1. Thanks Tami - I like the Catholic family game night idea - what games do you play? We have Catholic Scattegories and Divinity - would love some other ideas!

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  12. Love the puzzles and the added idea of a Catholic game night! We are pretty competitive here ..it would be fun to see that focused in a positive way! ;)

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    1. LOL - we play to win here too - intense games of Catholic Scattegories! Have a blessed Advent - thanks for hosting the #WorthRevisit!

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